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    The ease of genetic manipulation and the strong evolutionary conservation of eukaryotic cellular machinery in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has made it a pre-eminent genetic model organism. However, since efficient protein isolation depends upon optimal disruption of cells, the use of yeast for biochemical analysis of cellular proteins is hampered by its cell wall which is expensive to digest enzymatically (using lyticase or zymolyase), and difficult to disrupt mechanically (using a traditional bead beater, a French press or a coffee grinder) without causing heating of samples, which in turn causes protein denaturation and degradation. Although manual grinding of yeast cells under liquid nitrogen (LN2) using a mortar and pestle avoids overheating of samples, it is labor intensive and subject to variability in cell lysis between operators. For many years, we have been successfully preparing high quality yeast extracts using cryogrinding of cells in an automated freezer mill. The temperature of -196 °C achieved with the use of LN2 protects the biological material from degradation by proteases and nucleases, allowing the retrieval of intact proteins, nucleic acids and other macromolecules. Here we describe this technique in detail for budding yeast cells which involves first freezing a suspension of cells in a lysis buffer through its dropwise addition into LN2 to generate frozen droplets of cells known as "popcorn". This popcorn is then pulverized under LN2 in a freezer mill to generate a frozen "powdered" extract which is thawed slowly and clarified by centrifugation to remove insoluble debris. The resulting extracts are ready for downstream applications, such as protein or nucleic acid purification, proteomic analyses, or co-immunoprecipitation studies. This technique is widely applicable for cell extract preparation from a variety of microorganisms, plant and animal tissues, marine specimens including corals, as well as isolating DNA/RNA from forensic and permafrost fossil specimens.


    Ernest O N Phillips, Serena Giovinazzi, Sarah L Menz, Yuna Son, Akash Gunjan. Preparation of Cell Extracts by Cryogrinding in an Automated Freezer Mill. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2021 Jan 29(167)

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    PMID: 33586710

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